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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 980161, 10 pages
Research Article

Development and Validation of an Enhanced Coupled-Field Model for PZT Cantilever Bimorph Energy Harvester

1Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
2Department of Electromechanical Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Macau, Macau, China

Received 19 August 2012; Revised 2 January 2013; Accepted 16 January 2013

Academic Editor: Yuji Liu

Copyright © 2013 Long Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The power source with the limited life span has motivated the development of the energy harvesters that can scavenge the ambient environment energy and convert it into the electrical energy. With the coupled field characteristics of structure to electricity, piezoelectric energy harvesters are under consideration as a means of converting the mechanical energy to the electrical energy, with the goal of realizing completely self-powered sensor systems. In this paper, two previous models in the literatures for predicting the open-circuit and close-circuit voltages of a piezoelectric cantilever bimorph (PCB) energy harvester are first described, that is, the mechanical equivalent spring mass-damper model and the electrical equivalent circuit model. Then, the development of an enhanced coupled field model for the PCB energy harvester based on another previous model in the literature using a conservation of energy method is presented. Further, the laboratory experiments are carried out to evaluate the enhanced coupled field model and the other two previous models in the literatures. The comparison results show that the enhanced coupled field model can better predict the open-circuit and close-circuit voltages of the PCB energy harvester with a proof mass bonded at the free end of the structure in order to increase the energy-harvesting level of the system.